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--- M A R C U S   C A F A G ˝A

She remembers a young white rat lifted from a cage to a towel spread on a card table in the kitchen, where her nine-year-old hands cupped ether over the whiskered nose and mouth until each tiny pink foot hung limp upon its tendon. In his Beatle bangs and scrubs, her older brother imagined himself a doctor, smuggled rodents home from his late shift at the lab. The night he opened an incision down the throat to the sternum, she dabbed up blood and kept their patient sedated as his pen knife sawed the quivering cherry-shaped pituitary gland from its stalk in the brain. She remembers wondering if he thought the rat, like The Incredible Shrinking Man, would disappear in his hands, but only blanched when the ether wafted her nostrils, the sewing needle's haphazard tail of thread through skin tugged the long wound shut. How she marveled at her brother like a god as he peeled apart the fine albino fur to expose a mosaic of red and blue organs in translucent sacs, and there between the lungs in electric thump, the systole and diastole of a frantic heart.

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